FRIEDMAN, Ignaz: Complete Recordings, Vol. 5: English Columbia Recordings
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Great Pianists Ignaz Friedman
Complete Recordings, Vol. 5
Ignaz Friedman was born in Podgorze, a suburb of the Polishcity of Krakow in 1882. His father was a musician who played in a local theatreorchestra and after piano lessons with local teacher Flora Grzywinska, Friedmanleft Krakow in 1900 to study composition at the Leipzig Conservatory with Hugo Riemann.
It was not until 1901, when he was already 19, that he decided to go to Vienna for lessons with Theodore Leschetizky. As with Moiseiwitsch, Leschetizky was notenthusiastic when the young Friedman presented himself, but after three yearsof study (also becoming Leschetizky's teaching assistant), Friedman was readyto make his Vienna debut in November 1904 at which he played Brahms's D minorConcerto, Tchaikovsky's First Concerto
and the E flat major Concerto
ofLiszt. This debut launched a touring career that began in 1905, and for thenext forty years Friedman seemed to be perpetually on tour; he visited theUnited States 12 times, South America seven times, and Europe every year, aswell as Iceland, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Palestine, Japan, Australia andNew Zealand. Although he did not often perform chamber music in public, hecollaborated with the greatest instrumentalists of the day, Casals, Huberman, Feuermann, Morini,Elman, Auer and Ysa?â??e,and performed under the batons of Dorati, Gabrilowitsch, Mengelberg andNikisch.
Until 1914 Friedman lived in Berlin but after the FirstWorld War he settled in Copenhagen. Friedman's first visit to America was in 1920 and in April 1923 he made his first records for the American Columbia Company.
After extensive and exhaustive touring, the onset of the Second World War meantFriedman had to move again, as Scandinavia was not a safe home for him. The AustralianBroadcasting Commission invited him for a tour and during the early 1940s heplayed and broadcast regularly in Australia and New Zealand. Partial paralysisof his left hand made him retire in 1943 (he was only just over 60) and he diedin Sydney in January 1948.
This fifth and final volume of Friedman's commercialrecordings contains all the published sides from sessions made in London in 1933 and 1936. Friedman spent two days at HMV's Abbey Road studio No. 3 at theend of February 1933 making records for HMV's affiliate, Columbia. On 27February he recorded his own arrangements of two Viennese Dances
byEduard Gaertner (1862-1918) and Chopin's Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 47,a work he had previously recorded in America in 1925 (Vol. 1, Naxos 8.110684).
Just two takes were made of each of the four sides. The Ballade is given aperformance to make Chopin purists blanch; it is larger than life and rathercavalier but infectious in its surging power. All of these recordings wereissued and the following day he returned to the studio to record an Etude
byScriabin from Op. 42, Two Balkan Dances
by Tajcevic (which Friedmanbegan playing in the late 1920s), and Chopin's Polonaise in A flat major, Op.
53, which he had previously recorded in 1927 (Vol. 2, Naxos 8.110686). None ofthese sides were released although takes of all the works were mastered.
Between February and June 1936 Friedman toured South Americaand returned to England in November. On 17 June he gave a recital in Liverpoolwhich included Schumann's Kreisleriana,
Op. 16, and Liszt's Venezia eNapoli
, and the next day at 8.30 p.m. he gave a recital at London's Wigmore Hall where he played Mozart's Rondo in A minor, K. 511, and Bach's Chaconne
in D minor in the arrangement by Busoni. Although the announced programmecontinued with a group of Chopin pieces and Schumann's Kreisleriana
16, Friedman substituted Chopin's Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 58, and Schumann'sCarnaval
. Of the performance of the Chopin Sonata one critic wrote, 'Thelegato phrasing and the building of the phrases into coherent paragraphs wereespecially admirable'.
At the end of November 1936 Friedman made his lastcommercial recordings: he was only 54 years of age. It must be regretted that Columbia did not ask him to record some of the repertoire from his recent recitals. However,on 23 November he recorded the first part of Weber's Invitation to the Waltz
,Chopin's Impromptu in F sharp major, Op. 36, and Chopin's Nocturne in E flatmajor, Op. 55, No. 2, the latter famously described by Harold Schonberg when hewrote that it 'may well be the most beautiful, singing, perfectly proportionedperformance of a Chopin Nocturne ever put on records'. It is indeed a wonderfulrecording and an excellent example of the way a full tone can be produced fromthe piano without forcing it, something Friedman had no doubt learned fromLeschetizky. That same evening he gave a recital in Cambridge, and the followingday Friedman returned to the studio to record just two sides - two takes of thefirst part of Schubert's Marche Militaire
arranged by Carl Tausig;neither was released. Further concerts were given in Sheffield and Manchester and a week later on 1 December 1936 Friedman was at Abbey Road again to recorda few trifles from the piano literature. The Serenata
, Op. 15, byMoszkowski and Dvořak's Humoreske
were both issued from the firsttake as was Paderewski's Menuet in G major, Op. 14, No. 1. Friedman plays theopening theme of the Serenata
with disarming simplicity and beautifulphrasing while the Humoreske
is beautifully understated and displaysFriedman's wonderful singing tone. The following day Friedman returned for hisfinal commercial recording session. Invitation to the Waltz
wascompleted as was another waltz, the Valse-Caprice in E flat major by AntonRubinstein. This work was once very popular, and also recorded by Josef Hofmann(Anton Rubinstein's pupil), Ignace Paderewski, and Artur Rubinstein. The finalwork Friedman recorded was Schubert's Marche Militaire
, a single take ofpart two and two more takes of part one.
Following this last recording session Friedman continued totour Britain. On 8 December 1936 he was at St Andrew's Hall in Glasgow playing Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, with Georg Szell who directedthe Scottish Orchestra from 1936 to 1938. Two days later Friedman was on thesouth coast of England, at Bournemouth Pavilion. With the Bournemouth MunicipalOrchestra and Richard Austin he played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bflat minor, and two days after that he was at London's Wigmore Hall for aSaturday afternoon recital (incidentally given at the same time as hiscolleague Bronislav Huberman was playing at Queen's Hall). Friedman playedBrahms's Variations and Fugue on a theme of Handel
, a group of Chopinincluding the Nocturne in E major, Op. 62, No. 2, two Mazurkas, the Ballade inG minor, Op. 23, and four Etudes, as well as Schumann's Papillons
, Op. 2,Debussy's La soiree dans Grenade
, Jeux d'eau
by Ravel, a prelude by Scriabin, an Etude by Poldiniand two movements from Liszt's Venezia e Napoli
It is a great shame that none of this repertoire was recordedby Columbia, but it must be remembered that the record companies were there tomake money, and they knew single discs of encore pieces by Moszkowski andDvořak would sell better than long works on large sets of 78rpm discs. Aneven greater loss are the sides actually recorded by Friedman but never issuedand now lost. These include Beethoven's Emperor Concerto
and his ownarrangements of works by Johann Strauss - O Schoner Mai
, Wiener Blut
and Rosen aus dem S?â??den
Included as an appendix here are two alternate takes ofChopin Mazurkas <